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Why at over 60 did you take up the Saxophone?

Started by Tony Edge, March 27, 2011, 12:10:36 AM

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Tony Edge

March 27, 2011, 12:10:36 AM Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 11:58:09 PM by Tony Edge
Why at over 60 did you take up the Saxophone?

Well I have always loved Jazz and Spanish Flamenco.  I played a few chords on a nylon strung classical guitar at Night School almost 20 years ago.
Ulf Goran ran a very good series on Television on playing the guitar.
His book was one of the best for beginners.
This book introduced me to tablature notation.
After about 6 months I could play all the music by Ulf Goran without learning to read music. Soon I memorised Malaguena
and still play this today from memory.
One cold November day 2010 In Criccieth in North Wales I was visiting the Jazz night at Cadwalader Ice Cream parlour.
Every Thursday evening from 7.00pm they have a Jazz night except during the busy summertime season
The musicians  were the very best and some of the finest in the country.
I was quite blown away by the sounds of the music and the awesome Tenor Sax player.
The sax looks so complicated with all the buttons.  It's quite a beautiful instrument and synonymous with Jazz.  From that moment I wanted to learn more. Those mysterious buttons buttons.  Those fabulous sounds.
(November 2015) Sadly Cadwaladers, the Welsh coffee and ice cream chain went into administration Diane Brierley and Mark Andrews bought out the firm.  From now on Cadwalders Criccieth  has lost its warmth friendly atmosphere and no music evenings.

Back home I searched for information on the Saxophone.
The question is it hard to play.  Am I too old to be able to play the instrument?
Do I need to learn music?  Should I rent or buy.  Tenor or Alto.

The forums and the video's on youtube soon answered my questions.
Yes I could learn to play but would need at half an hours practice per day.

My best option seemed to buy a good second hand Alto Saxophone.
My budget was no more than ?135.
After several bids on eBay (buyer collection only).  I was fortunate to win an almost new Alto Saxophone sold by Dawson's with the name Mirage for ?130.
Some of the keys were slightly bent and the octave lever was bent this was pretty obvious.  Very careful adjustment formed these back into shape.

Then trying to play a note almost nothing.
Youtube tutorials suggested fitting the reed to the mothpiece and if you can get a duck calling sound you are almost there. Then fit the mouthpiece and try again.

No luck could it be a problem with the mouthpiece.

I bought a new unbranded mouthpiece with reed and ligature for ?7 free postage from EBay this arrived next day.
Tried this. At last I could play notes A to G.
Another search on forums suggested buying a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece.
Again on Ebay bought one for ?24.
The improvements continued I tried Vendoran reeds.
But could not improve on the cheap Chinese unbranded reed.
I went back to the supplier and said they were number 2 Flying Goose.
I bought a few boxes of grades 2.0,   2.5 and 3.
The quality control is very spasmodic some boxes are brilliant others not so good.
The good ones I love so much easier to play than both hard Vendoran and Rico standard.
The Flying goose reeds are so cheap a box of ten costs no more than one single reed from our local music shop.
I have graded the best 8 reeds and labelled the with the days of the week these are rotated daily,  the best reed kept for special occasions.

---- Six Months Later ----
My music teachers frowned on the cheap reeds.
Steve Wiltshire recommended using Vandoren reeds 2.5.
After six months practice the tone does sound a lot better using Vandoren superior reeds.
Going back to the Flying goose reeds you notice the difference during playing my embouchure has improved the FG reeds are tending to lock when playing hard.
--- Eight Month Later ---
Moved up a step to Vandoren V16 3 or 3.5
I love these reeds at the moment with the Yamaha 4 C alto sax mouthpiece
--- 10 months later ---
Bought a Tenor Saxophone on Ebay for about ?140 unbranded manufacturer unknown.
The sax had not been used and stored for several years and still had packing corks closing the pads.
It was unplayable with so many faults all due to assembly of the instrument.
I decided to do a complete strip down and fit new pads and springs after several days work it was back in working order.
But took about 4 days to set up the regulation and testing.
For further information visit Repad Tenor Saxophone of unknown make. http://learnsax.co.uk/talk/index.php?topic=28.0.

--- 12 months later ---
I love the tenor sax everyone remarks they prefer the tone to my Alto saxophone.
Using Yamaha 6 mouthpiece with Vandoren standard No.2 reeds (blue hermaticaly sealed sachet) bought localy from our local music shop.
Have stopped buying cheap Vandoren standard No.2 reeds on ebay I'm sure they are fake they don't play well and don't look genuine, a bit like the cheap
camera Scandisk memory cards bought on ebay and proved to be fake and suddenly stop working.

Regarding my alto sax this remains in its case and not been used for a few months.


March 29, 2011, 12:09:43 AM #1 Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 01:46:42 AM by Tony Edge
Good luck Tony with learning the saxophone
I too am hooked on learning to play the Saxophone.
You either hate the sound or love the tones.

There is Just something very special about the instrument it has a soul once you start playing you cannot put it down it?s a friend. The sax is forgiving it looks so good. 
Word soon gets around once you start playing you find neighbors and local people wanting to encourage and help you play.  Age is no barrier I know a little girl of 5 playing the Tenor Sax she can?t even lift and stands on a box to play. A man in his 70s started playing at the music centre.

The world changes you start hearing as if for the first time background music in supermarkets. Television programs.  You stop and listen to buskers in the street.
Your life becomes enriched a new joy.



Hi Tony

The reason you started at age 60 is that you are like me, of an age that doesn't really care what people think and just want to have a go.  Good for you.  A lot of my private students are adults over the age of 40 that have taken the plunge and they love every minute of it.

The good thing about the sax is that it is a friendly instrument, it will work well on its own but also works just as well with 100 other saxes and their owners ( I wont say master because I dont think the majority of us actually do master it)

Do you play in a band or musical group?

Good luck and blow it as if you mean it


Tony Edge

You know there is something about playing saxophone that just grips you I don?t play in a group I just play for my own enjoyment.
People say to be expert at anything take 10,000 hours.

The sax is a gentle learning curve and don?t think I will ever reach a time when I cannot go any further.
Comparing learning guitar to saxophone I seemed to find it harder to get to the next level with guitar.
I only wish I could read music properly everyone says it?s so easy.
Computers make things so easy all I need to do is scan a page of music go into Sibelius print out the score with note names and have become rather lazy reading.


The only problem with that means that you don't get the rhythm in letter format and you have to wait until you have scanned something in before you can play it.

If you have lessons ask your teacher to work on sight reading for a while.  It will pay dividends in the end